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If you missed our earlier article called “Take the Train between Vermont for $12 in 2009“, take a look at this video about the Amtrak’s Vermonter, produced by Burlington’s Seven Days Magazine. Until December 31, you can still enjoy a nice ride, and a nice visit somewhere… may be on one of the last days of foliage… or on a snowy day in December! It really sounds like fun, and a pleasant thing to do on a week-end day!

 

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amtrak_vermonter_randolph_575Photo: Downtown Randolph, one of the Amtrak Vermonter’s stops in Vermont.
What a wonderful way to discover the countryside and the towns of Vermont this summer and this fall.
You can ride the train between towns within Vermont on the Amtrak’s Vermonter for only $12 (one-way rail fare). And the landscape is so breathtaking.
This is wonderful news for tourists and Vermonters, after all the talks over the winter that Amtrak might actually cancel its routes to Vermont.
The Vermonter can take you from Washington DC or New York to Vermont, all the way to St. Albans, VT.
You can enjoy the beautiful landscape, and you can also stop and visit some of those towns, recognized for their scenery, their architecture of historical significance, their shopping and dining. Each town visited by the Amtrak Vermonter’s has actually been recognized by the state for its significance as one of the “22 designated downtowns”. And Randolph – one of the stops – is among the quaintest villages in Vermont (our 2008 article Historical Vermont Towns & Commons)
While you are in Vermont, you can also attend one of the summer festivals the state has to offer. The Vermont Mozart Festival  is taking place from July 19 to August 9, and there are several signature events of the 400 years of Lake Champlain on the route as well, such as the St. Albans Franco-American Heritage Festival on June 18-20 and the “Celebrate Champlain Burlington International Waterfront Festival on July 2-14.

So, to plan your trip: simply plan your trip between any other Vermont town on the route for the special rate of $12 per each trip (discount code V189). And if you come from outside the state of Vermont, take the train from Washington DC or New York (discount code V446) to the first Vermont stop in Brattleboro, and from there, plan your stops within Vermont with the discount code V189.  Major holiday blackout dates are Sept 4, Sept 7, Nov 24-25, and Nov 28-30.
The Vermont stops are: Brattleboro, Bellow Falls, Claremont, Windsor-Mt. Ascutney, White River Junction, Randolph, Montpelier-Barre, Waterbury-Stowe, Burlington-Essex Junction and St. Albans. See the towns on the route on this Amtrak map.
Reservations can be done at 1-800-USA-RAIL and you can find more information about Amtrak’s Vermonter on its web page.
Watch a video on the Vermonter train, produced by Burlington’s Seven Days Magazine: Riding the train.

Enjoy! I surely hope I can try it myself sometimes this summer!

Related article: Planning your Summer Vacation to Vermont

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Burlington, VermontPhoto: Courtesy of Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.

Sarah Tuff Dunn, co-author of 101 Best Outdoor Towns, said: “Burlington has it all… a brick pedestrian marketplace, Vermont’s iconic white steeples and rolling hills that spill down toward a lively, green waterfront on Lake Champlain” when she explained Burlington’s selection as one of the 20 Prettiest Cities in America, by Forbes Traveler this month. It’s quite an honor. Burlington was definitely in good company among well-known towns such as Aspen, CO, Lake Placid, NY, Hanover, NH, Portsmouth, NH and Rockport, ME.
Church Street Marketplace, Burlington’s pedestrian outdoor mall, is definitely very popular and a wonderful spot to wander around on a week-end afternoon. A recent survey among Quebec visitors said that they loved the pedestrian street and its combined urban and small-town feel. Church Street Marketplace was also selected last month by the American Planning Association (APA) as one of the 10 Greatest Public Places in America. Other places honored in 2008 by the APA for their character, quality and planning included Central Park, NY, Santa Monica Beach, CA and Union Station, Washington DC. Another great honor for our lakeshore town!
And if you will enjoy your visit to Church Street, we are convinced you’ll also be impressed by the serenity of the lakeshore. Talk a walk on the walking path, sit down on the decks of some of the bars and restaurants (we like the Ice House ourselves!) and admire the lake, the boats, and the Adirondacks on the New York State side, across the lake.
And for more ideas about what to do during a week-end in Burlington, a great article was just published in the NY Times Travel: “36 hours in Burlington”.
I was personally intrigued to see their photo of the “Burlington Earth Clock” – a 43-foot sundial made of granite slabs. We’ll have to check it out!
In addition to ideas on “things to do”, the article also gives you a few great ideas for restaurants and places to have a drink or a coffee… Check it out.
Finally, our gastronomy lovers will be happy to know that there are indeed a few great places to eat in Burlington. The ones most commonly mentioned by “gastronomes” are:
– A Single Pebble (upscale Asian)
L’Amante (also mentioned in the NY Times article)
Trattoria Delia
– And finally American Flatbread (mentioned in our article on the brewpubs of Vermont).
Nice places for a special dinner event, not necessarily cheap but enjoyable…
So, if you come to Burlington for a visit, let us know what was your favorite place…leave us a comment…

Related article: Brewpubs of Vermont

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Golden mums
We’ll tell you about the scenic drives and the places to go apple picking, but what about doing something different:

  • Canoeing the Missisquoi river: It is part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, and has some of the best flat-water paddling in Vermont. And it is bordered by a large silver maple forest. Actually, it is so scenic that there is a bill at the Senate right now to have the Missisquoi and the Trout Rivers become “wild and scenic rivers” which will allow their protection and development as a wonderful natural resource.
    More information at: The Northern Forest Canoe Trail
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  • Follow the cheese trail: There is nothing better than having a good excuse to drive all around Vermont. The cheese makers of Vermont are famous (they get world recognition!) and their cheeses are delicious, so why not discover Vermont cheeses and enjoy the scenery – all at the same time. The Vermont Cheese Council offers you a map of all the places you can visit (check the little flags on the map).
    More information at: Map of the Vermont Cheese Trail
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  • Enjoy a train ride: This summer I had the opportunity to visit a few of the Vermont towns which saw their economic development boosted in the mid-1800s because the railroad came through their villages. The tracks are still there and believe me, they are always taking you through scenic valleys surrounded by forested mountains. Amtrak can take you from Washington DC all the way to St. Albans on the Vermonter, from New York City to Rutland on the Ethan Allen Express, and from Boston to Springfield, MA and then to Montpelier. The Green Mountain Railroad also offers some rides. They have a Fall Foliage Dinner Train leaving Burlington from 3pm to 9pm on September 27 – $75.00. We cannot wait to take such a trip ourselves!
    More information at:
    Green Mountain Railroad Fall Foliage Dinner Train 
    Amtrak route guides – The Vermonter and the Ethan Allen Express
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  • Take a cruise on Lake Champlain: Seeing foliage from the lake is a very popular fall activity. Take a 1 ½ hour cruise with Carillon Cruises (his dock is across from Fort Ticonderoga) and the captain will delight you with historic tales of the region. For an overnight mid-week (Lake Discovery Cruise) or a week-end (Vermonter) cruise, choose the Moonlight Lady. I hear food is great and they can accommodate 16 people overnight.
    More information at:
    Vermont Discovery Cruises
    Carillon Cruises
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  • Visit wineries: We’ll have to try this ourselves, and see if the scenery is worth the drive… It may not look as bucolic as the Napa Valley’s hills covered with vineyards. But if you are intrigued to discover if Vermont has nice wines to offer, this is another excuse to drive around. One vineyard, Shelburne Vineyard did win some awards for its organically and sustainably grown wines. For you to discover.
    More information at:
    Map of Vermont wineries
    Shelburne Vineyard
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  • Take the Vermont Brewery Challenge: From wine to beers! We have talked in a past article about this fun way to visit some of the 18 Vermont micro-breweries. You can get the official passport, get a stamp when you visit one of the breweries and win prizes!
    More information at:
    Map of Vermont breweries and pubs
    Vermont Brewery Challenge Passport
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  • Join the 251 Club and visit all 251 towns and villages in the State of Vermont. Record everyone you visit on the map until you have completed it all! I know, it’s a little crazy, but a great excuse to take roads you would not normally take. We have discovered beautiful barns or waterfalls this way!
    More information at: 251 Club

And for the more usual activities

  • Go apple picking and win an iPod: Yes, it’s true. In one of the participating apple orchads in Vermont, you can pick up apples and find a wooden apple in some trees to win an iPod. One good way to have the whole family motivated to come!
    More information at: Vermont apples
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  • Enjoy one of the foliage scenic drives or bike rides: Vermont has so many scenic drives or biking trails. Foliage-Vermont.com and Burlington Free Press are two references we selected for you. You find itineraries and maps there. And if you want to join a group for a biking tour, Bike Vermont offers some fall tours for you.
    More information at:
    Burlington Free Press Foliage Drive
    Foliage-Vermont driving and biking roads  (click on driving tours on the left menu and select one of the tours).
    Bike Vermont
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  • Finally, for mountain biking and hiking, lots of choices again, one choice worth mentioning is the Kingdom Trails in East Burke. It was voted 2006 Editors’ Choice by theYankee Magazine Travel Guide to New England and called the “thrill of a lifetime”!
    More information at:
    Kingdom Trails

Related posts:
Vermont Scenic Drives: Route 17
Brewpubs of Vermont

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fort_ticonderoga-200-200This blog posting has been moved to http://christineseclecticlife.com/lake-champlain-french/

Related posts:
Sunset on Historic Chimney Point
Mount Independence Reenactment
Samuel de Champlain’s Voyages
Celebrating Champlain

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Evening Chimney Point historic site
Last Thursday night, there was a very nice social evening at the historic site of Chimney Point. The historic site team was welcoming all for some appetizers and a free visit. This mid-1780s tavern seems the perfect place for it, with its nice white porch wrapped around the red brick building; and the view on Lake Champlain and the bridge to New York state is superb. Before long, people were sitting on the rocking chairs on the deck listening to a few notes from the Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife and Drum Corps, and chatting at one of the picnic tables on the lawn… It truly felt like a relaxing family gathering and it was delightful to watch the sunset on Lake Champlain… What a nice evening! We’ll make sure we let you know next time they organize such a special event.
Note: inside, there is also an interesting exhibit on the history of the region, the native Americans, the first French settlements and the history of battles which took place around the lake during both the French and Indian wars (middle of the 18th century) and the American Revolution. It also shows nice photos of the Chimney Point historic house when it was St-Frederick Inn at the beginning of the 20th century.
Opening hours: Wednesday through Sunday, through October 13, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Admission: Adults: $3.00

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Dragon Boat FestivalNew this week!
5th Annual Vermont Lakes Region Cycling Weekend – It’s both Saturday and Sunday and seems like a really nice event for cyclers. They are 13 rides to choose from, from rolling to hilly terrain, and from 19 to 65 miles in length – on paved, scenic, rural roads. The small groups of cyclists gather at Green Mountain College in Poultney. And for all the rides, they are given detailed maps and clues, and are accompanied by an experienced leader. And to make it even more attractive, some rides lead to interesting cultural or historic places, such as the Slate Valley Museum, Fort Ticonderoga (on the NY side) or Hubbardton Battlefield. Accommodations are available.
More information at: www.cyclingvermont.org
Related Post: Battle of Hubbardton Reenactment
3rd Annual Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival – Sunday August 3, in Burlington, at the Waterfront Park, from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm – The traditional Chinese Dragon Boats are competing! Teams of 20 paddlers (and a drummer) in 40-feet boats. Definitely a popular event, as the registration for participants is already full! And it’s a fund-raising event for Breast Cancer. We’ll be there!
More information at: Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival
2008 Pipers’ Gathering, Killington – sounds like a very serious gathering of pipers with workshops and group instructions during the 2 days, but for the general public, those of you who like such music, it’s also the chance to listen to “some of the best pipers” in the world (say the organizers) in 2 concerts Saturday night August 2 and Sunday night August 3 at 7:30PM.
More information at: www.pipersgathering.org
• The President Calvin Coolidge Homestead is always a nice place for a relaxing time, when the weather is nice and they do have some additional attractions on Saturday August 2 (Plymouth Old Home Day, including a chicken BBQ) and Sunday August 3 (piano concerts at 3PM).
Related post: President Calvin Coolidge House 
• At Mount Independence Historic Site, a great place for some day hikes, it’s a “Hike into History” on Sunday August 3, at 2PM, where you can hike the Orange Trail and the Blue Trail and learn from Steve Zeoli what happened there in 1776 and 1777 during the American Revolution. You can also bring a picnic and/or hike the flat, easy Baldwin Trail (green trail) which just won the 2008 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Leadership in History Awards (quite a mouth full!), the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. And indeed, the signage on the trail is superb!
Related post: Day Hike: Mount Independence
Champlain Valley Folk Festival – August 1-3 – at the Kingsland Bay State Park – celebrating its 25 years – We suspect it is probably a casual event… in the State Park… but there are still an impressive number of artists appearing over the 3 days (35 on the program we saw!)… so if you enjoy folk music, I hope you enjoy it.
More information at: www.cvfest.org
Directions: Take Route 7 to Ferrisburgh. From the center of Ferrisburgh, take Little Chicago Road west toward the lake. Turn right on Hawkins Road and continue for 4 miles to the Festival Entrance.
• And finally, as surprising as it may be, Les Miserables musical is playing in Vermont… from July 31 to August 23 in Weston. We’ll try to go and check this production in the next few weeks and tell you what we thought. We are not expecting the kind of production you can see in New York or London, but we’ll see…
More information at: www.westonplayhouse.org

And for continuing events:
Vermont Mozart Festival. It’s your last chance to attend one of its outdoors concerts in a place with beautiful scenery: Friday night August 1, at Shelburne Farms, and Saturday August 2 and Sunday August 3 the 2 “finale” concerts at Shelburne Farms and Stowe. We are planning to attend one of them… and praying for sunny weather;
And don’t forget the concert for kids at Teddy Bear Company Factory, in Shelburne, on Sunday. See our Event Calendar for the complete schedule.
Related posts:
Grande Isle Magic… and Jazz
Vermont Mozart Festival: Schedule
Vermont Mozart Festival: Grand Opening
Vermont Summer Festival Horseshow – 4th week-end of competition at East Dorset; Photographers: remember you can participate to a digital photography contest (see previous posting);
Related post: Vermont Summer Festival Horseshow
– And more chamber music at Marlboro Music, Marlboro College – Friday August 1 and Saturday August 2 at 8:30PM and Sunday afternoon August 3 at 2:30PM – We were there last week-end and the concert was delightful. It is worth the drive there and you can find nice romantic inns to stay at, in the area. Time Magazine says it’s “the most exciting chamber music in the U.S.”, the NY Times says “extraordinary rising stars and musical legends play side-by-side”.
More information at: Marlboro Music
Also, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment on one of these events if you have a chance to attend!

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Swimming - LakeThere are lots of fun things to do in Vermont in the summer. Here is for starters:
– Go to one of the 89 swimming holes – ponds and rivers – listed on this website. Make sure to watch their slideshow, it gives you a great idea of the look of the different places (names are on the photos). Great for a hot day!
– Go to one of many outdoor concerts of the Vermont Mozart Festival or the Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival;
– Watch antique cars at the 51st Annual Antique & Classic Car Meet, in Stowe on August 8-10;
– Eat a maple cremee: you got to have one if you are in Vermont in the summer… Make sure you get the ones made with real maple syrup and not just the flavor! We’ll give you some addresses soon, but for now, let’s mention Morse Farm, up County Road, near Montpelier, that’s the place everyone knows;
– Go to the Harpoon Brewery BBQ competition in Windsor on July 26-27; 40 teams from all the country will compete!
– Get a Vermont Brewery Challenge – Official Passport and visit all 18 great micro-breweries in the state of Vermont; Get a stamp at each and you can win prizes!
– Go and watch the Challenge Race at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, near Vergennes on July 20; it’s a 3-mile race of around 50 small boats. Should be fun. Around 200 spectators usually attend. And may be even more fun, on Saturday 19 (today!) there is a duct tape boat construction and race there!
– Attend your first Thunder Road night in Barre (not NASCAR racing but close!) – every Thursday and occasionally on week-ends;
– And if you are into American Revolution history, go to one of the reenactments/encampments which take place at different historic sites along the summer: the Battle of Hubbardton early July, Mount Independence encampment this week-end, Bennington in August…
What do you think? Fun enough?… Anything fun we should add to this list, leave us a comment and tell us about it!!

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Round barn VermontLast week’s quiz did not get the level of answers we expected! So, this week, we made it much, much easier. Come on… tell us where is this wonderful renovated round barn. You cannot find many of those around! And we’ll tell you more about them next week, when we explain where this one is.
Clues:
– it is now a public building,
– it is close to Burlington.

Click here to log in your answer as a Comment!

Answer to last week’s quiz: We were at the corner of Road 73 and road 30 on our way to Mount Independence State Historic site. And the 4 large windows? There are the proof that the building used to be a one-room school, because in the 20s-30s, Vermont passed a law forcing all schools to add 4 large windows to their building for better light. Check around and you’ll notice some of them still used as public buildings or sometimes converted to private residences.

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Mount Independence - bridgeMount Independence which is also known as Fort Independence is a wonderful hiking opportunity as well as a pleasant walk for those less eager to tackle the 400 feet of decent and re-ascent to the shore of the lake. There are some easy trails with great historic signage and a couple of true day hiking 3-mile long trails. There are also great views of the New York side of Lake Champlain and Fort Ticonderoga.
The top of the mount is where the traditional star shaped fort, hospital, and some of the living quarters were located. This area is all very accessible by almost completely flat walking after rising about 50 feet, gently, from the back of the museum. It is a well-maintained crushed slate and can be walked in sandels… Don’t miss the 0.25 mile spur out to the cannon emplacement which has a dramatic view across the lake of Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Defiance as well as a great vantage point to visualize the bridge which once existed across the lake. We also really enjoyed visualizing the hospital from the well preserved foundation and reading the historic descriptions of the various points of interest. It is very well done.
The other trails all take you down the mount to the lake shore and back up. It is a fascinating “easy” hike by hiking standards but it is no longer a crushed slate walkway. Its typical “Long Trail” style path but with the addition of marked points along the way where vistas or artifacts of the fort remain. One of the best spots is at the end (aren’t they usually?) where the bridge connected across the lake and you can now look “up” and across to Fort Ticonderoga and visualize the way it may have been back in 1776 – 1777. There is a monument and very pleasant picnicking area just up from that spot about 100 yards where the first cannon emplacements were once located.
Our “hike” which included the full circle of the walking tour on the top last about 2 ½ hours and was broken up with many minutes of enjoying locations and reading about the object or site that we were viewing. I would recommend this hike/walk for families since there is so many times that the “next thing” is just a few minutes away and should keep the kids very interested for the 2 – 3 hours. Also, anyone capable of rising the 50 feet to the circular path on top should not be intimidated with that walk (maybe 45 mins at a leisurely pace) as it is essentially “flat as a pancake” up there.
You are truly hiking into history. Enjoy!
The official website of the Mount Independence State Historic Site.

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